CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Perhaps the biggest goal of storytelling is making your stories come to life and that is exactly what storyteller and poet, Hannah Hasan, and photographer and cinematographer Scott Gardner have strived to do.
"I Am Queen Charlotte", written originally as a book, is set to come to life on March 6, kickstarting Queen Charlotte Week. From March 6-12, people will be able to celebrate the rich history of the city of Charlotte through the perspectives of Black women.
“Queen Charlotte Week is about exploring and celebrating the rich history of our city through the lens of those whose stories and contributions have thus far been overlooked,” said Hasan. “Through the written word, spoken word, art, music, and more, we are inviting Charlotteans who want to deepen their understanding of the present by exploring this history with us through many different angles. Our multi-platform events across Charlotte has something for everyone.”
Bringing "I am Queen Charlotte" to life
On March 6, at 7 p.m. those overlooked stories will come to life with the help of Broadway veteran Benjamin Endsley Klein at the Belk Theatre at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.
With music provided by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and other Black women storytellers on stage, Hansan sees this as an opportunity to do something unique.
"All of the Black women storytellers on stage are actors who act in this community," said Hasan. "So it's a major collaborative effort. That's going to be beautiful."
After interviewing over 50 women, Hasan wrote what she considers to be "intimate and intricate stories" that bring to light the lives work, contributions, and even human experiences. After putting the book together, Hasan knew that this was way more than just something to read.
"I knew just based on some of the work that I've done in live storytelling shows that this was more than just the book," Hasan told WCNC Charlotte. "And I went to Scott and we started discussing like, what would this look like to use our sort of epic tribe process and put this on stage and, you know, have other organizations become involved and it just evolved from there."
A week-long celebration
Even if you can not attend Sunday's kickoff event, Queen Charlotte Week offers many more opportunities to be a part of a week designated to educate and uplift women of all walks of life within the Charlotte area.
On March 7 at 11:30 a.m., feel free to register to participate in the virtual event titled 'Aftershocks of A Queen'. Community Building Initiative (CBI) will discuss the connection between stories about Queen Charlotte and tell participants how they can recommit, reconnect, and rebuild as a community.
On March 8 at 7 p.m., participants are invited to log in virtually to watch Queen's Cafe Conversation, a discussion between girls from the community about themes found in "I Am Queen Charlotte." Following that, join in at 8 p.m. for the Women of Words Poetry Slam at Booth Playhouse, located at 130 North Tryon Street. Instead of admission, event organizers are asking for donations.
Friday at 8 p.m. at Knight Theater, hip-hop and R&B artists from the Charlotte area will perform. Featured artists include Crystal Vision, Larissa Mia, Paulina Simone, Reccee Raps, TuKool Tif, Chocolate Kndy, J Macks & Sunshine Anderson. The event, Queens of the City, will be hosted by Ohavia Philipps with DJ Fannie Mae. Purchase tickets here.
To close out the week on March 12, Stories of Young Queens: A Black Girls Film Camp Screening event will start virtually at 3 p.m. The event will be an exploration of Black girlhood and identity. The hour-long event will take a look at five short films from the Keepin' It REEL: Black Girls Film Camp as a foundation to discuss themes like Black girl identity, the pressure of perfectionism, and triumph over trauma. To register, click here.
The closing event, Give Her Flowers will be in-person from 2-5 p.m. at the Harvey B. Gantt Center. The event will celebrate the history and impact of Black women in Charlotte and beyond. Activated with a panel discussion, a public photoshoot, hands-on art, and live music, young girls and elders alike are welcome to connect and reflect on the varied contributions of Black women to art and culture. Tickets are $9 for adults, $7 for children & students. Click here to purchase.
Approved by the city of Charlotte
"I Am Queen Charlotte" is the first project to be supported by the Infusion Fund's new Opportunity Fund. The fund was recently approved by the city and allocates more than $4 million in arts and culture funding for the fiscal 2022 year.
The Arts and Culture Advisory Board was able to approve the $35,000 grant to support the program because it falls under the priorities for the Infusion Fund, which are:
A unique and new endeavor in Charlotte.
Multidisciplinary and collaborative, with individuals and organizations of all types supporting each other and working toward a common goal.
Accessible, with free and paid events held in multiple locations.
Organized by an experienced team of local artists.
Engaging a broad range of the arts community and community at large.
Paying artists appropriately for their work.
"It has felt like when we made the decision for this to be bigger than the book, it almost like right away, everything sort of fell in place and that's how I knew that this is divine and it's supposed to be because all of the everything that we have needed we have gotten," said Hasan.
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